AMBER and what to do with it
A Russian-Swedish joint exhibition curated by Åsa Lockner and Anna Livén West at gallery Konsthantverkarna, Stockholm (2008).
Amber, an obsolete material or a material with great potential? See a new generation of amber works by Swedish and Russian artists.
”We give you amber, a material with an obvious identity problem.”
In November 2007, the project ”Kaliningrad Amber” was set off. 10 artists in Sweden and Kaliningrad were chosen and a workshop dealing with amber was organised in Svetlagorsk (on the Baltic coast near Kaliningrad). By letting the artists inspire each other with their different views, specific working methods and national identities, the aim was to create new, unique objects made of amber.
During six cold days, the artists had the chance to work freely with 4 kilos of raw amber, attempting to challenge the traditional aesthetics. Cultural clashes, linguistic confusion and the surreal fairytale surroundings of Svetlagorsk have finally resulted in the exhibition “AMBER and what to do with it” where the participating artists have been working with themes such as status, aesthetics, communication and symbolic values.
Amber Makeover – Sara Engberg
Mink boa with ribbons, frills, gold-plated silver and faceted amber
Amber is generally associated with craft and organic, natural shapes. Wearing amber jewellery signals a down-to-earth personality, appreciating natural beauty and authenticity rather than luxury and bling-bling. Unlike gold and diamonds, amber is affordable and democratic—it doesn't work as a status marker, because anyone can buy it and wear it.
My aim with this piece has been to perform an amber “makeover”, transforming the amber from a craft material to a luxury material by placing it in an extravagant context—cutting it in faceted, diamond-like shapes and combining it with mink fur and gold. It's an homage to the Russian Lady, who never compromises with style; who wouldn’t wear an outfit that's anything less than perfectly matched, and who doesn't hesitate to put on a sumptuous mink fur and high-heeled suede boots—even when visiting a muddy amber mine.